AP NEWS

The Latest: Trump directs US military to aid Mozambique

March 24, 2019
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Displaced families arrive after being rescued by boat from a flooded area of Buzi district, 200 kilometers (120 miles) outside Beira, Mozambique, on Saturday, March 23, 2019. A second week has begun of efforts to find and help tens of thousands of people after Cyclone Idai devastated a large swath of Mozambique. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

BUZI, Mozambique (AP) — The Latest on Mozambique Cyclone (all times local):

11:40 p.m.

United States military says President Donald Trump has directed it to support relief efforts in the aftermath of the cyclone that hit Mozambique more than a week ago.

The U.S. Africa Command statement comes three days after Mozambique’s government made a formal request through the international community for aid.

The U.S. statement says AFRICOM provides disaster relief “when it has unique capabilities that can be utilized in the U.S. government’s response.”

It says the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa will lead the U.S. military efforts and that its initial assessment has begun at the scene of the disaster.

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10:40 p.m.

The young mother huddled on a wooden boat clutching her 2-year-old daughter, headed for the unknown: The flooded town of Buzi, which thousands have fled with little but the clothes on their backs.

Fishermen’s boats have been ferrying out Buzi’s displaced, sometimes scores of people crammed into a single vessel. But Veronica Fatia was going against the tide, up waters that only recently carried corpses to the sea. She was looking for her mother, hoping she was still alive.

Ten days after the fierce rains and winds roared in, the death toll stood at more than 750 in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi — a count that was certain to rise. Thousands of families swept apart by the storm were now seeking to reunite.

After a three-hour journey Fatia stepped carefully out of the boat and walked into the remains of Buzi, a once bustling riverside city of 200,000 now reduced to homelessness and despair.

She passed the shuttered Jesus Saves Bank and a nearby three-story building where residents clustered on the rooftop in search of a signal for their cellphones. She passed people living in the open along the sandy main road. Some were cooking, others building crude shelters. A young boy read a textbook. Her mother might be at the school, Fatia thought.